Saturday, 24 May 2014

Growing our own food

I must admit this year after my initial burst of energy for gardening, I got a bit disillusioned when the damn birds ate all my spinach and peas before they'd even sprouted. Totally my own fault, I didn't know you had to sow them in pots and transplant, covered with netting etc. You live and learn. So the bag of seeds (that I'd sworn wouldn't be touched until next year) actually came out again today as I realised I still had half a bag of compost left. It was sunny and warm and rather than tackle the mess indoors I chose to spend my energies outdoors, and all the better for it :)
Above: this was a mini potted cactus that died from neglect, but I kept the pot. Apparently cacti need water too sometimes, who'd'a thunk?! The plant that you see above is a total mystery to me, answers on a postcard. I planted mixed lettuces in a pot of soil from the garden, and this is something that was lying dormant in the soil, just waiting for me to come along and water it. I hadn't the heart to throw it out, so it can live in the pot a little longer until I identify it and thus decide its fate. Ominous music cue.

These are the mixed lettuces that DID make it, growing ever so slowly in the clay-like soil. Maybe I'll mix in some compost and give them a chance. Actually a couple of them look suspiciously like dandelions, don't they?! Well, at least we know they're edible. These are on a windowsill, hopefully out of reach of the slugs and snails.

Yup. Dead pumpkins. Apparently it's still too cold for them to be outdoors. I still have about 5 strong plants left though, but still, bummer.  Middle front is a tomato plant I was gifted today (thanks Anne!) and I really want to keep this alive. Just to prove to myself I CAN do it! I have tomato feed now too, so there's no excuse. 

I'm super-excited about these sticks here! They are fruit bushes, the left and middle ones are raspberries and the right-hand one is a gooseberry. 1.49 euros each in a budget shop. They are dormant for shipping, and need at least a year of TLC to flower and fruit, so I hope I can get a crop out of them next year. God, you need some patience with this gardening lark.

Yesterday I spent a while removing the weeds from this window box (another lettuce-seed-in-soil failure) and I removed about half the soil and mixed in compost. I then pulled apart a garlic bulb and sowed the cloves in a zig-zag pattern all along the length of it. I put one in each of the pots on the right, and the purple pot has a couple already growing (and a lot of grass I need to remove). I'd love a crop of garlic. All I can see in shops is the stuff from China, and it makes more sense to grow our own if possible.

Enthusiasm for seeds regained, I planted spinach in these pots...

Yes, that is a plastic tablecloth crumpled on the patio. No, I haven't picked it up yet.
...and carrots in these. 

Yes, my kitchen windows ARE this dirty!
These parsley plants are confusing me. I bought them both in supermarkets, one this year and one last year. Am I supposed to keep cutting it back to nothing and use what grows in its place? Or let them get bigger? Do they need re-potting in a bigger pot now? How does one know?

Our lavender is budding now, in its new home near the front door. This year I will pick some and make lavender sugar for baking. Yum!

The flies/bees? like our strawberries! Bought as small plants last year, we got about 3 actual strawberries last summer, hoping for maybe 5 this year. They've grown loads in the last few weeks.

Lawn to the left, well, dandelion patch I suppose, hedge to the right. Both need trimming for the strawberry border in the middle.

This was today's re-jig. Our entrance porch is now a mini greenhouse! I used empty fruit punnets from the recycling bin, cut down the boxes from the fruit bushes (well, ripped as I couldn't find scissors) and various other receptacles. In them are peas, spinach, a nectarine seed and one nasturtium seed. I'd had high hopes for a nasturtium border along the potato patch, but apparently birds like nasturtium seeds as well. Bastards.

These days in the middle of the smoggy city suburbs I'm dreaming of someday having a small-holding, a few chickens and bee hives, growing all our own food, and baking all our own bread. That is the dream. I'm practising on a small-scale so that when the Lotto win happens, it'll be a short learning curve. We live in hope, people.

So gardening on a budget is possible, needs lots of work, has so far no payoff, and hopefully we'll get some food to eat at the end of it. But sure, it keeps me off the streets. 

Are you inspired to plant some food this year?

Nee x

1 comment:

  1. Love the idea of entry hall turned greenhouse! Is it working? Does it get warm enough? I have zero gardening skills, I kill things. But little one has been asking to plant, and my practical side thinks food rather than flowers. I'll keep putting it off a while longer I think!


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